I was skeptical about even reviewing this course, since secular treatments of history generally leave much to be desired. But I have to say that The Teaching Company has done a terrific job with this course. "SuperStar" teacher Lin Thompson is also an actor, so he dresses in costume and takes on various historical characters to walk us through a survey of world history.
This is not a complete course. There are either six videotapes or six DVDs with a total of 30 lessons, each of which is 30 minutes in length. This should work out to about one lesson per week, and it should be used as a supplement to your study of world history. It might be more frequent if you are completing all of world history in one year since this course only goes up to the American Revolution, leaving some of your book study unaccompanied by anything from this course. Of course, if you want to spread world history out over two years, then the videos can be used once per week or less.
Surprisingly, religion plays a prominent role throughout this series. The perspective is non-judgmental, but the presentation of Christianity seems quite accurate, albeit with a slant toward Protestantism. It even has Martin Luther explaining salvation by faith rather than works. Still, Zoroaster and other religious leaders along with their teachings are presented in such a way that disciples of those belief systems would be unlikely to feel challenged.
The lessons tackle broad historical periods such as early Egypt, Ancient Rome, Chinese dynasties, and the Protestant Reformation. In the amount of time available, Thompson often focuses on a single character giving us a sort of "slice of life" view of the time period. Still, he does an excellent job of tying together major events in story format. In fact, the appeal of this course lies in the fact that Thompson tells stories rather than just lecturing.
Two booklets contain outlines for all of the lessons. They also present two essay questions per lesson. However, the essay questions are identical to those found in the accompanying Study Workbook for the course. The Study Workbook has ten "comprehensive"questions plus the two essay questions. Generally, the comprehensive questions ask who, what, where, why, and how type questions that require more than a simple answer. The essay questions sometimes require fairly significant research. For example, one question asks, "What was the new teaching of Luther, and how did it differ from the Catholic Church?" Frequently, there is little difference between the two types of questions, so you might use some for written assignments and others for oral discussion. Suggested answers and key points to look for in those answers are in the last half of the Study Workbook. This book is not reproducible and we need to purchase a separate book for each student.